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Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are a traditional North African ingredient, primarily used in dishes like Tagines. They input beautifully rounded citrus undertones to whatever you add them to. They can be used with anything from pasta, grains and green vegetables, to fish, poultry and meats.

They're relatively easy to make, but take a long time until they're ready. They're best stored in a sterilised kilner jar in the fridge. To sterilise your kilner jar, wash well in hot soapy water. Then you can either place in a large saucepan, with a towel on the bottom, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, and boil for 5-10 minutes. Leave to cool in the water until ready to use. Or you can place the jar on a baking tray and place in an oven at 120c for approximately 10 minutes. However, if using the oven method, sterilise the rubber seal in a pan of boiling water, as the oven may damage them.

If you can't get a hold of unwaxed lemons, then wash the lemons well in hot water to remove the wax

Ingredients

130g sea salt
100g caster sugar
5 large unwaxed lemons, washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Many aromats you like- picked thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns etc

Method

Cut the lemons in half, then each half into 2-4 wedges, depending on size. Discard the pips.

Mix the salt, sugar and any aromats. Scatter an even layer just covering the bottom of the dried kilner jar. Start layering the lemons in the kilner jar, with a scattering of the salt/sugar mix between each layer. Press each layer down to release some of the lemon juice. 

By the time you reach the top of the jar, the lemons should be fully covered by a brine made from the lemon juice and salt/sugar mix. If they are not, then squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top, or press down more until they are. Top off with olive oil to make sure that no lemon wedges are in contact with the air.

Seal the jar and refrigerate for approximately 3 months. This will cause the lemons to soften and mellow in flavour. When ready to use, cut out the flesh so that you're only left with the skin, this is the only part that you use.

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